Michael-James Dent AKA Outlaw Boogie has been busy writing his latest EP Five Years. He can also be found playing in various outfits across the capital such as Zooz, Hunck and Yoofs. So, it's a wonder how he has the time to do anything else. But for Third Outing - Michael-James has pulled out all of the stops by taking up his guitar and covering a genius band - Spacemen 3. Here's Walkin' With Jesus by Outlaw Boogie!
As usual we gave Outlaw Boogie a choice of three covers before asking him to choose one. Here's his big three followed by his feelings of the track. By the way, this is one of the best covers we've had to date:
I was very happy to have been given the opportunity to cover Walkin' With Jesus - not only are Spacemen 3 a favourite of mine - but it really allowed me to try something a bit different. A lot of the Outlaw Boogie material was written with an emphasis on the standard formulae of pop music, so to work on a song that is incredibly free formed and focused on creating a vibe was a real pleasure. I haven't stepped very far away from the original - which might seem a little safe - but I wanted to have fun creating this version and I definitely did!
Ever wondered what Bill Withers would sound like if he were making music right here right now? He'd be as smooth as ever. He'd ooze the same sunshine lyrics. He'd be dynamite. If Bill Withers was making music right here right now - he'd sound like New York City's very own Gyason. Who better to put the cover challenge to than the wonderfully intimate soft husk tones of Gyason Copeland?
As you will know by now we give each artist a choice of three covers before asking them why they chose to recreate the one they chose. Here are Gyason's three followed by his feeling on the track - enjoy:
I chose Affection because it was really calm. It sounds like something I should listen to on a cloudy day - it really stood out to me. I had heard of the band before but never heard this song. I liked the change of melody over the same chord progression throughout the song. Lastly, I thought that the vocal style was a good match for me. He has a very soft, almost whispering voice - that is usually my "go-to".
As we know - Jackson is a minimalist - a nostalgic being. It serves his music well and conveys his style perfectly. He's been pretty busy lately making music under his other project name Succulents - and will also be hitting the road in May on a grand tour of Canada with Mike Mikus. To celebrate, we asked Jackson to be the latest genius to recreate a number for our latest covers feature. We gave him three choices - he went for Alcooholiday by Teenage Fanclub.
(If you didn't read our first feature, we ask an artist to record a cover for us and find out what draws them to the song). For Jackson, we gave him the following tunes:
I had never heard this song before but I felt like it fit my 'vibe' more than the other tunes. It just has the sort of lazy, chilled out guitar strumming stuff going on that I can really get into. I think it's sort of a sad song. "Falling into line, but I'm doing nothing, we've got nothing worth discussing" and the title being Alcoholiday. I spent a lot of time driving around with it, thinking about the lyrics - it kind of reminds me of the feeling of going on a drug bender or something. Just like, going on vacation from your responsibilities and getting into the sauce.
He's the young lad from Hartlepool - a small town in the North East of England - who has just released his incredible debut 4 track EP Memory. Andrew Smith draws comparison to some of today's best Lo-Fi artists including Big Star and Bonny Doon. But in this, the first of a series of new cover features exclusive to Third Outing, we've challenged Smith to go head to head against one of music's greatest song writers of all time - Brian Eno. How does he level up - you decide?
We gave Smith 3 choices:
Read why Smith chooses Eno followed by his Third Outing exclusive cover of Eno's Baby's On Fire below:
I went with the Eno song because I thought it had a great melody. I think the centerpiece of the original is that really long Robert Fripp solo, but the vocal melody really appealed to me, and so I wanted to frame the song around that instead.
Look through the window: it's the opening to the world of Pittsburgh-born/Portland-based Sara Renberg's incredible new Lo-Fi Indie record Night Sands. But it's too good, it's begging - DON'T JUST DO YET ANOTHER EMAIL Q&A INTERVIEW THIRD OUTING - I want to hear a real story about Night Sands. So, to take a real view inside the music - we asked Sara to tell us a story inspired by Night Sands using the lyrics found in each track. See if you can spot them...
Everywhere, batteries are dying. There’s a parliament of teens on the driftwood, as drunk as the clouds. I wonder which of five things they will grow up to be. I wonder if they all know what to do in the event of a tsunami.
“Haystack Rock is the third tallest megalith in the world,” you said when you first brought me here, which isn’t true, but I’ve never let the fear of turning a party into an ex-party get in the way of a little fact checking. And the facts: it is a majestic upward jab of earth; in the spring and summer it is covered in tufted puffins; The Goonies was filmed here; I’ve never seen The Goonies; I found a bent penny in the grass; megalith isn’t even a word. This is a reason we are friends. One moment you are the ballerina, and I am the cop, and then we switch.
Sea anemones in the tide pools. Wild rabbits in the hedge. Ping pong in the basement, listening to a battered cassette of the Forrest Gump soundtrack.
We’re taking a break from the future for the summer. We eat sandwiches in the sand and walk by the corner store: CHEAP COLD BEER SOLD HERE. The ex-party becomes re-party and I forget that I am the only gay person in this house.
It is kind of you to bring me to the birthplace of your imagination. Now that I have these images, I can imagine you better. To confess: when I look at the ocean, I can see how I’ve been a river. When I sleep in a twin bed, I wake up in the past. When I make us coffee, we make it into the present together, and I can imagine a future where I could have a problem in front of you.
We think that speaks volumes about this wonderful record release. Lo-Fi, Indie, poetry - whatever you want to call it. Inspired by Silver Jews, Mirah, Liz Phair - whoever you want to say. This record is an inspiring example of when true poetry meets music.
Noir Boy George with Usé. Photo parispsychfest.com
Thanks to the hard work of underground record labels, tuned out bands and arists for arts sake prepared to lose mega money on fucked up non-commercial music rather than toeing the line - some of the greatest music of our time is being released right now - you just haven't heard it yet. Here's the five French projects that will switch your brain to overload...
They don't do interviews. They don't want to be commercial, make money or promote their music. Nina Harker are from Nantes and that's about all we can tell you about them. Apart from the fact that their music is from another planet, of course. Thank you Le Syndicat Des Scorpions for releasing this beauty.
JC Satan, The Villejuif Underground or Cheveu - Born Bad Records have had a successful story. While some are still milking garage rock for all its cool - like it will never dry out - the sleaziest alley cats have gone drinking elsewhere. That's where Nico, the mastermind behind Usé, is drinking. Below is a live recording of their track Amphetamine thankfully released on Kakakids Records!
Hailing from the outskirts of Paris, Jessica93 is the project of the one and only Geoff Laporte - nervous indie rock and roll expert. This is his third outing, Guilty Species, and in fairness is the one that clearly stands out. Listen below.
Bryan's Magic Tears
We introduced Bryan's Magic Tears last year, but they deserve to be on this list. The band - named after a particularly strong type of acid "magic tears" - mix fuzz with melodies. On their début everything blurs into a ghosted memory of a song. Mistiness with a clear propulsive force. It's truly a sound to haunt the senses.
Noir Boy George
We have to finish with a legend. Noir Boy George is the anti-hero, singing about frozen babies and taking drugs under bridges. His melody screams loneliness, shit cold northern towns and a grim humdrum. The soundtrack of many.
*This list was made by Old Biscuity Boyle, who came down the office with the name of these five bands.
Rule Britannia in Georgia, Atlanta
With Philip Frobos from Omni
By Steffen Armstrong
They pose with Winston Churchill in Hackney boozers, hang out with Marc Riley on 6 Music and tour with Franz Ferdinand. Then consider new LP Multi-Task as a stones throw away from the sounds of The Jam and XTC. It seems there's Rule Britannia in the great city of Atlanta, after all. Consisting of ex Balkans, Deerhunters and Carnivores, Omni's British Indie of the Deep South is more intriguing than any amount of red-eye gravy on yer' fish and chips!
But it all makes sense when you see the Trouble In Mind Records link. Home to other Third favourites such as Jack Cooper's Sandgrown and Soft Wall's No Time, there's a distinct Britishness about the labels preferred sounds. Omni slot into the philosophy very nicely, offering a wonderful hybrid of British Indie Punk staccato guitar riffs with the unmistakable classic American driving bass line - a musically geographical cross-breed of the highest degree! Take in the new record Multi-Task below and see the quick fire Q&A with member Philip Frobos.
Third: We've been telling people you're Georgia's modern version of The Jam!
Philip Frobos: Well that's very flattering, we love The Jam! Omni is Frankie and I having fun, playing the music we enjoy. Rock 'n' Roll.
How does Multi-Task compare to you last release Deluxe? You know what they say about "difficult second" albums... // I think it sounds better fidelity wise. It was definitely a more deliberate effort as well, with Deluxe we didn't really have any goal in mind to release the album. It was really interesting and fun to have to create a follow up as an obligation, I know we both enjoyed that. I do think Multi-Task stands just as firmly on its own.
Equestrian is our favourite track, what's yours? // My personal favorite at the moment is Choke.
What is it about bands and recording in remote cabins in the woods? Fassbender in Frank!! // I haven't seen that film, but I can tell you it's so nice to be away from all distractions and obligations...and to be loud!
You've both got very respectable Rock 'n' Roll pedigree with Deerhunter and Carnivores, what's your hope for Omni // I would just say it's our current band as we are no longer active in the others. It's definitely never been a side project. We're excited for the future.
What's the state of the Atlanta music scene right now? // It seems to be staying the course, we played with two bands the other night that were doing cool things, Lois Righteous and Yukons.
The Jazzy Sidney Gish
Words from Sidney Gish
By Steffen Armstrong
"I've had a passing interest in jazz for a while, nothing I've actually studied seriously, I'm okay at theory, but as a player I'm totally a baby", admits Sidney Gish. Her new record No Dogs Allowed utilises jazzy chord progressions and song structures which prove the perfect back-drop for Gish's own 'Great American Songbook' endeavor, AKA to create a golden book of timelessness. "I like listening to jazz" she continues, "but I like it best hidden in songs that are good anyway, like vegetables hidden in brownies or something".
Narrative and storytelling are Gish's trump cards. Where last year's Ed Buys Houses was the first signs of the talent, No Dogs Allowed proves it wasn't a fluke. Intrigue lies in Gish's technique; writing songs as melodies first, and then adding in lyrics that sometimes don't go with it. She bends and makes it work as a sentence, or in some cases, just ignores the process altogether and spews out the first nonsense she feels like. For example, I'm Filled With Steak, and Cannot Dance.
The track utilizes some classic 'Gishisms' from the last record, like double tracking and strong bass line clickage, both of which loosely cement the lyrical style into place. There's also a natural charm about the delivery. "I had all these VHS videos already, and I felt like it fit the best with that vibe. For me, the sparkly arpeggios hit the same kind of vibe sonically that the fake camera fuzz does visually", says Gish. Together with a jazz inspired approach to chord structure and the importance placed on melody, there's a real effervescence to the album.
Indeed, there's continuation from Ed Buys Houses, but for the last time it seems. "What they've got in common is the work pattern it took to make them – totally inactive on the recording front for most of the year, then working through the night over winter break"...
..."After doing that for the second year in a row, I feel more motivated than ever to just get up and record, as opposed to trying to plan out an album before I make it, since that never works". Gish points towards some helpful advice from the archive of Bill Wurtz. Do things in the now, you can't hold things back, you can't create two separate worlds of creativity and storage.
Aye, turn on the radio and listen to a shit song (apart from Jona Lewie - he is a Christmas God). The same old Micky Bubbles ruining something Sinatra probably ruined himself 50 years earlier. Don't get us started on Carey - the only one we're interested in is Jim and he's not in any Christmas films this year anyway. It's all drab. So here's the alternative. And yes, this is nothing new either but we've got better taste than Rolling Stone magazine so shurrup!!! Merry Christmas and all that, go...
The Felice Brothers - Carriage (The lonesome Christmas)
One for the Country lovers, this is what we imagine is played in the Catskill Mountain Country bars where Christmas cheer is lacking. Toast Grandpa Felice!
Courtney Barnett - Boxing Day Blues (Revisited) (The indie Christmas)
A spooky, warming riff which sums up how average Christmas can be, especially after a shift in the pub (probably). We do feel sorry for that abandoned tree!
Pixies - Winterlong (The 90's Christmas)
Isn't this a nice track? The B-Side to the very warm sounding Dig For Fire, we think this could be the best forgotten winter ballad on the list. Frank Black AKA Santa?
Jonnie Common -Yippee-ki-yay, Father Christmas (The modern Christmas classic)
This is a modern Christmas classic of our times. We raved about Jonnie Common's Die Hard tribute last year, and indeed about him all of this year!
Okkervil River - Listening To Otis Redding At Home... (The casual Christmas one)
This is the tune which is all about those slow, lingering times only a Christmas holiday can offer. It's dark, it's long, it's poetic, it's beautiful, it's Christmaaaaaas?
Belle and Sebastian - Winter Wooskie (The best Christmas song)
Who's that girl? Only Belle and Sebastian could do a winter warmer like this. Trust me, this is the one which will become addictive after going through the list!
Malcolm Middleton - We're All Going To Die (The Christmas cool)
The boy with the Arab strap wins the prize for the coolest Christmas video of all time. Watch Middleton tear up the streets with some tinsel and a bell. Enjoy!!
Yes, it's that time of year again where we announce the best 11 bands and artists of 2017! We look back at some of the sounds which have inspired us to hear differently, think new thoughts and continue to be amazed by the power of music. Here's to the best of the best from the world of alternative music 2017 that have featured on Third Outing. Muchos thanks see you next year.
GK: Cigarettes After Sex
It felt natural to give Greg Gonzales the golden gloves this season given its been one hell of a ride. Cigarettes After Sex's eponymous LP came out a few month ago and they got all the reviews. As often the case with "blogs", we've been following them for a few years now and even met him in Nottingham last year. Thrilled the band are finally getting the recognition they deserve, here's the pick of the songs from the new record.
RB: Sidney Gish
A dark-horse contender in the Third Outing starting line-up, this is one of the most surprising records of the year. Like a gift from the Gods, Ed Buys Houses somehow appeared in the Third Outing stratosphere and the rest is history. We love Sidney Gish's laid back approach to music; she's the female one band version of Pavement. Listen to this time-capsule of youth in its entirety - honestly, we think she's better than the likes of Courtney Barnett.
The first notes of this record capture the Cotillon magic perfectly. There's just something so good about those vocal meet guitar lines, right? The Afternoons is strange, complex and tender. We noted the dark elements found on the record, but the more you listen, the more uplifting it feels. Alex's Room is the standout; it's a time and place where the air is becoming less oppressive and the scenery becomes more bearable.
CB: L.A. Salami
Easily one of the most influential artists this year for the Third Outing team, L. A. Salami has the art of song writing near perfected on the magnificent Dancing With Bad Grammar. Describing himself as "6 foot tall, dark skin with facial blemishes, thin, nappy hair, male, city dweller, artist, poet, on some days music maker" - this Burberry fashion man and Okkervil River support act has had a 2017 to remember.
One of the tightest and most consistent bands we've featured, Glasgow rockers SHREDD proved on Everytime We Meet I Want To Die that melody reigns supreme! We absolutely loved the second track on the EP I'll Leave It; merging Punk and Rock 'n' Roll together like no other this year. That bass line is savage, right?! The next time you're in the second city of the empire, catch 'em at The Old Hairdressers.
RM: Bonny Doon
We consider this fine group of musicians to be the 'flair players' of this year's line-up. We first came across Bonny Doon when we heard their self-titled debut EP, and like a scout who watches the young prospect grow to become world-class, it's wonderful to see how these few tracks, rough around the edges with little thought gone into recording, have ultimately shaped where the band are now.
CM: No Monster Club
"One listen through this year's No Monster Club encyclopedia, and you'll blurt out my favourite, over-used descriptor: GENIUS." - Third Outing. Aye, we were quoted on that one! Releasing one EP every month this year, the prolific Bobby Aherne has at times seemed absolutely unstoppable. With songs like Kung Fu Buffet being churned out on the regular, Aherne flies the flag for the Dublin collection in 2017.
You all know we're big fans. They're just one of England's greatest hopes, the band's band around town and real artists in the mix. Simple. The kind of band you acknowledge and deal with, Darkroom shows off YOWL's bemusing Frank Sidebottom meets Arctic Monkey's vibe, but then in truth there's nothing really to compare the Peckham punksters. Must experience live!
LM: Jack Cooper
The romantic North. Hardened faces, softened souls. It's about personality, mentality and wits. As winter crept up, Jack Cooper's solo debut became Third Outing's perfect rainy Sunday morning record. We love how the North comes across in Sandgrown portraying 9-5 mentalities and a constant battering from the seafront. Bravo! I mean, nice one t'lad.
CF: Catholic Action
We've already spoken about England's greatest hope, these lot are Scotland's greatest hopes! We told you to put your faith in a pop song and Catholic Action answered the prayers. Last year it was the rocking L.U.V which blew us away, this year it's Breakfast. They're a band who have just gotten better and better as time goes on. Nobody else is like them on this list or any other.
CF: Jonnie Common
The only guaranteed starter up top this year. Our very own Ibra and Neymar rolled into one, unrivaled in talent and Scotland's finest lyricist; Mr Jonnie Common. Since discovering Common with his Christmas ode to John McClane, we've become fascinated by his seemingly never-ending back-catalogue. With the release new single Restlessness, he is probably also the proud owner of Third Outing's very special 'track of the year' accolade. Perthshire's greatest.
The DIY specialists, deserving of a place in the starting 11. The former Hair Blair Bunchers (note excellent Peep Show reference) really impressed us with the Lucky Aide EP, especially the track Easy (Don't Be Long).
Indie Rock 'n' Roll Revivalists to the core, Remo Drive threw us right back to the late noughties earlier this year with their first full length record Greatest Hits. Yes, they make you want to start an Indie revolution!
Gifting us one of the best 'lose yourself and get smashed' records of the year with PLW VIP. Making music for movement, SWEAT chase a sexy sound, made in the wrong ways, that doesn’t add up the way it should.
MAN: Fuzzkill Records
Where do we begin but with a list of the mega bands and artists Fuzzkill Records have contributed this year? The likes of Spinning Coin, Catholic Action, Breakfast Muff, SHREDD; we've had the pleasure of interviewing them all on Third Outing. Raise your glass to Scotland's greatest party planners and this year's manager of the year!!
Photography by Brett Walker©
Curls is the new Girls
An interview with Curls
By Robin Ecoeur
It is fair to say that whatever Christopher Owens touches turns to gold. Now, I have something to confess. I learned the guitar by playing Girls' songs. And I've always wanted to ask him one thing: C/Am/F/G...it's kind of your trademark, isn't it?
"I'm a self-taught musician", Christopher tells us. "So I don't know a whole lot else, but it's great to work with different musicians that can take a basic chord progression like that and play over it". Fair enough. It's maybe too common to consider a "trademark", but I've always been fascinated with musicians who can use the same chord progressions over and over yet spark countless melodies. This is where real and true talent lies.
"We've got a solid rhythm section, solid songwriter, great in-house producer, and the single uniting goal of making these songs reach their potential"
Christopher has that talent, and with new band Curls he is once again showing it to the world. Joined by Luke Baće and Cody Rhodes, the band's début EP Vante feels very familiar and you'll swear you've heard that melody before. And you probably have. But not like that. Not like the way Owens and his new pals have managed. Because it will always have that magical touch. Always. It's still original.
Why? It's difficult to say. Owens has always been a very open artist who makes deeply personal music, full of emotion. That's also why so many people relate to his music. And at the end of the day, Curls is a continuation of Girls. But maybe just a more stable and focused band, who seems to work together a little better.
"Solid" is the term Cody Rhodes uses, and the solidarity might be key to Curls' future. They might just have found the stability needed to grow in a musically healthier way. The result might just be as good as Girls. Perhaps even better.
On social media, Christopher, you wrote "we’re all working boys too, so this won’t be about touring and PR, etc." Is that still the case? // That was the case in the beginning but things are constantly evolving. We did just get a minivan with bucket seats though! Maybe we can put it on a ship and sail it out to your wonderous island.
Cody, what musical direction is Curls taking? We're taking things one song at a time right now with no real stylistic or aesthetic destination in mind. We've been bouncing the new songs around with some friends in town that play excellent guitar and keys and are always pleased with their different interpretations.
Steely Dan-ing the songs with different players possessing diverse strengths on a song-for-song basis might be just the ticket for these new ones. That being said, we've got a solid rhythm section, solid songwriter, great in-house producer, and the single uniting goal of making these songs reach their potential.
I love the Velvet Underground vibe on Emotion. Your top 3 Velvet songs? Chris: To me, the Emotion riff came from Tommy James and the Shondels' Crimson and Clover. I like Velvet Underground the group, but to be honest, I don't own any of their records. I love Nico and Lou's solo records. // Luke: Sunday Morning, Sweet Jane, Heroin. // Cody: Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac.
Christopher, I have always wanted to ask. C/Am/F/G, it's kind of your trademark, isn't it? What's so magical about this chord progression? // I'm a self taught folk musician so I don't know a whole lot else but its great to work with different musicians that can take a basic chord progression like that and play over it. I feel like that progression is pretty common in Rock & Roll or Pop music like The Beatles.
It's Popty-Ping week here at Third Outing, and so we take a look at the four records released from the colourful series so far. They're all very different, though each has its own charm. So, check out the Welsh country's next gen of Indie bands a la Popty-Ping...
Shy and the Fight
First up is Shy and their vibrant release All That We See Or See / Breaks. The first is a powerful building ballad with great use of instrumentation. The music style itself is like a progressive folk hybrid which catches the imagination of pop music. Having seven band members helps, too. But the real standout is Breaks. The wonderful guitar melts with string accompaniment, and the melody pushes the imagination further.
The magic Mowbird are up next with their body bending Indie Rock 'n' Roll. From the Happy Active Horse Organ / Carousel release, the first absolutely gets us going. Mowbird truly deliver a fresh sound with their unique "cosmic garage" on this one. Carousel is a little more typical but still sings a punk anthem proudly, and regardless of snything proves that the group from Wrexham have got it going.
What a signing for Popty-Ping with this time-defying beauty. Hummingbird / Sofia is miniature fuzz release skill-ranking alongside the Supergrass' of the world. Hummingbird is our favourite of the two partly for the sweetness in melody sung, partly because we now can't stop singing it. Sofia is slightly different in its approach; more of a slower moving ballad, though still worth of the Trecco Beis badge.
Which means last but not least, the wonderful Gintis. Dennis / Oh My Little Malcontent is an intriguing release, and indeed the one that made us get in touch with Popty in the first place! You'll listen to Dennis and transport immediately to a heavenly worldy combination of Teenage Fanclub and The Beatles.
But then oddly, they sound like neither. For us Gintis are the most complete group from the series to date. Luckily their other releases can be found on Soundcloud, though admittedly lacking in new-releases.
Today we aim to tackle one simple question. What is the best song to have ever come out of Wales? And we're going to answer it simply. Of course yes it's by Super Furry Animals, but is it the one you're thinking?
I get it, yes. There's loads to choose from. Tom Jones and Ms Bassey will feel hard done by (thanks for reading). Stereophonics, well that was never going to happen. Goldie Lookin Chain got a consideration, and well Cerys just does radio shows now right? It can only leave us with one of the greatest Rock 'n' Roll bands of all time and definitely the greatest to come out of Wales...the capital's own Super Furry Animals. So without further ado, here's our favourite track of theirs, and therefore the best one to come out of Wales too...Hometown Unicorn. Are we right? Let us know @thirdouting.
Popty-Ping week concludes tomorrow.
This is the story of Philadelphia band Ruby Keeler, perhaps the last great undiscovered band of the late 90's. 3rd Outing discovers the story of what could have been...
When you first listen to Dotti Hoffman on the second Ruby Keeler record They'll Build a Neighborhood Where Your City Stood, two things should instantly come to mind. First, there's a certain Pavement felling here. Second, it screams Indie Rock and Roll at its best (two elements we pine for here at 3rd Outing, but we shall not not dwell upon that)! Here's the story...
It's late 2000. One year before The Strokes roll up and bring guitar groups "back" to the forefront of music. Ruby Keeler have already released a début record Shiver Shiver, and have gained the attention of the local newspapers. They're a good Rock band, and their first LP is more than a decent first effort. Is it outstanding? No. Is it very, very promising? Yes. The perfect blend of Punk, Grunge and Indie Rock elements. Ruby Keeler are going to get bigger.
"The Philly Weekly was especially good to us. Their best writer gave our first record an over-the-top review that really helped."
Soon after Ruby Keeler started working on the follow-up record, returning more confident, ready to show the world who they (really) are. But the second outing never released. A disagreement about who they were going to record with ensued and it signaled the end. That's until now. Jagged Skyline, a record label based in East Midlands, have just released a collection of songs and demos from that time, a collection which shows just how good Ruby Keeler could have been.
They'll Build a Neighborhood Where Your City Stood is a proudly imperfect album which remains flawless. It sounds madder, weirder and a whole lot bolder than their first record. They clearly upped their game, and made the progression needed in that all important second release. It portrays a band too lazy to Rock, fluttering with resigned melodies, sending out a laid back message with a certain coolness attached to it. The kind of attitude lacking from too many bands.
"There are a lot of terrible bands, but there are also lots of great bands not many people have heard of."
Now, here's the question which unfortunately cannot be answered: could this record have been the one that would have changed everything for the band? The one which would have helped the band gain a wider audience? Maybe. We can't answer that. But Jeremy from Ruby Keeler has kindly answered some questions which might help shine a light on the matter. Here's the interview...
Do you think that if They'll Build a Neighborhood Where Your City Stood came out in 2000, the band would have gained wider success? // Who can say? I think what really would have tipped the scales was not one record, but instead if there'd been a local label or some other para-musical institution (like a super good zine) which would have acted like a center of gravity for all the disparate bands, the way Merge did in North Carolina. When I lived in the UK I used to buy Sounds, NME, and Melody Maker every week and it was intense how complete a view you could get of the entire UK just from reading those but it seemed like they reviewed every gig and said nothing of the records.
Did you get any recognition from your first releases?
Sure, print medias, especially the local free weeklies. They were a big thing and we would usually get some kind of a write up in places when we were on tour. The Philly Weekly was especially good to us. Their best writer gave our first record an over-the-top review that really helped.
Jeremy, we'd like to know. How come you're not more famous? I mean, your music is fantastic. So what happened? // Well, thanks, but I don't know. You know, there are a lot of terrible bands, but there are also lots of great bands not many people have heard of.
Why did They'll Build a Neighborhood Where Your City Stood never come out? // We had a disagreement about who we were going to get to record it. The first two songs were a 7" we put out, but the rest are demos we did on the fly.
This performance on Chic-A-Go-Go is pretty funny. Do you remember it well? // For sure, Chic-A-Go-Go is a great institution. One thing you don't see on that clip is that the show is co-hosted by a rat puppet named Ratso! They did a whole episode of the show that was a spoof of Behind the Music telling Ratso's story; when Ratso bottoms out it's because he talked his friend, a French frog puppet, to sell his legs to a restaurant so they can go buy ice cream.
When Chic-A-Go-Go came through Philly a few years later I got to do the camera when Ratso interviewed Art Brut and Gil Mantero's Party Dream at their show at the First Unitarian Church. Both bands were total naturals being interviewed by a rat puppet, by the way, which was really impressive. And Gil Mantera's Party Dream were eating crappy gas station hoagies throughout their set. That was very memorable.
Photography by Ben Davis©
Pope are back. Third Outing's best Louisiana rockers return with the new release True Talent Champion out on Community Records on November 3rd. But how exactly have the Known Weed Smokers developed in the last 2 years, and are they now there?
Pope have always been able to write silk. They also know how to thrash. The first record proved this where fuzzy, heavy noises gave way to some of the more gentle, reflective sounds; Hunter Mann, Cashier, Glass and Beast all became instant favourites.
But now there's a step for Pope to take, who are no longer the newcomers. This first full length release after a long hiatus is just the opportunity Pope need to prove that they're there with the best of their contemporaries, who have remained much more publicly active over the past few years.
On the very first EP release I was taken by Pope's sound. I listened to the intro of Hunter Mann 100 times over. But something niggled, I found Pope flaked as the songs went on. The second phase, the development, wasn't quite as good as the first impression. Most songs, despite great hooks and ambition, lacked something. Now in late 2017, True Talent Champion is a signal of intent.
"There's some songs that move into some new territory with the synths and different styles of songwriting"
Pope have developed as songwriters. They're getting there. The three public tracks from the record show the affect time has had on songwriting and recording. Despite claiming to be a band who lack the same confidence as before, "not knowing what the fuck they are doing", they've come back more complete, and able to better elaborate upon their ideas.
Out of all of the tracks to talk about, Talk Me Out Of It is the winner. "Before I drive with my eyes closed again, I'm a real true talent champion". It's the sort of opening line and chord progression Pope specialise in. But now this magic fragment seems to continue throughout the entire track. The verses develop and intrigue, and the guitar solo, well that's just the the most fitting of all endings.
It's a real development which puts Pope on the same level as great bands like Glasgow's PAWS and LA's Dante Elephante. The release of True Talent Champion is the biggest signal of intent from Pope that even though they're getting there, this is a band who one day control where there is.
Three things about True Talent Champion people don't know yet? // The A/C was broken most of the time in studio so Matt preferred to do his vocal takes naked. We would do group aerobics before every recording session. During recording we consumed 50 cheese pizzas, 37 shrimp po boys, 17 falafels, 11 gallons of crawfish ettoufe, 2 apples, 75 kombuchas, and 1 half eaten cannoli from the trash can.
From the early sessions to the final cut, how has this record evolved and changed? // This record was kind of put together in chunks over a period of about 2 years. After Fiction came out we got pretty busy touring with our other band Donovan Wolfington, and it was hard to find time to write new music let alone sit down for long recording sessions. There's songs that were written pretty immediately after Fiction came out so they have that sort of sound, then there's some songs that move into some new territory with the synths and different styles of songwriting.
"We were a lot more confident back then. Now we don't know what the fuck we're doing"
So you have been actively venturing towards new sounds? // We've definitely been trying to write more dynamic, "complete" feeling songs, and really trying to get the most out of ideas...but the sound of this new album is still what you'd probably expect from Pope. Maybe just a few more clean guitars than last time. As far as new sounds, we used some synth and piano on the record. While we probably won't be incorporating synth in our live show anytime soon, it was fun to see what we could do with those things in the studio to create some new textures and ear candy.
Despite new sounds do you still all share the same influences like Bedhead, GBV, and Nirvana on this new LP? // Since we recorded some of these songs right after Fiction, the influences were pretty similar, but even today we are listening to a lot of the same stuff. Matt has been more into hip hop lately. Stuff like SZA and Frank Ocean. Atticus listens to the Cleaners from Venus, Arthur Russell, and the DB's, Alex has been listening to Ariel Pink, Andy Shauf, Elliott Smith, and Roy Orbison.
In 2015 you told us that you will become the "biggest band in the world and enslave listeners with loud noise pop". How's that shaping up? // It's shaping up terribly thanks for asking.
When I asked Jonnie Common if he'd experienced somewhat restlessness this year he responded as if I was from another planet. "Hasn't everybody"? In what has truly been a restless year for the many, not just the few, Common's music remains a light at the end of the tunnel. Here's 6 things Common gets spot on in Restless followed by an interview. The 2016/2017 bugbear annual, this one's for the dreamers...!
Technology is fucking boring! There's nothing worse than being tied to your phone all day, every day. Wake up; Facebook check, Sky Sports News check, frustrating views on Twitter we still read; check. Common points out iOS maps, and yeah it's true I'd love to get lost again, I just don't have the time to! Then there's having to text friends back, and feeling bad for only replying in your head! Throw in a couple more bugbears like the fucking tragedy that fidget spinners are, and no longer is Common alone in his year of restlessness.
Self-loathing is a key ingredient when it comes to working for the man. Especially on the weekend. Nobody wants to pull a shift then, especially for no thanks and shit pay. But we still do it. Or at least have to do it, apparently. That's what makes Common's shout out to the self-employed so spot on, they're doing something about it all! Carpe Diem etc. etc. It reminds me that it's all about winning the small battles, not necessarily the war. As he says, there's got to be a better way to win in the self-esteem stakes!
Novelty gift items (and other things of apparent magazine popularity). Like paper pineapples on straws. This video highlights that wonderfully. The kind of gift items you get from Urban Outfitters, from fish-eye-lens cameras, vintage suitcase vinyl players, to skull shaped plastic ice cubes and scratch maps. Throw in a pair of circular tortoise shell glasses for the 20/20ers and pfffft! If it gives him the shivers, it bloody terrifies me!!
Student loans, annual statements, electricy bills. The three most terrifyingly mundane concepts for anybody in their mid to late 20's. Then there's no drinks outside after 10pm, and a sudden desperation for cafetieres. No to worry though, music shall always prevail throughout the restlessness such themes manifest!
We should probably talk specifically about the music, right? The minimal instrumentation is clearly the portrayal of restlessness. But there's a lot going on man, I can see the mind trying to connect things. Like the cracking drop beat towards the end where the rhythm flows full. And the trumpet solo, so noble and sweet. The spoken word/rap style. Then finally the Doo Wop singing section; a fully rounded musical performance.
For me this track is all about daydreaming of bigger and better places. Common chooses to take himself to 21st and Broadway, New York City. It's a good place to start. Again as Common states in the song, it's all about wanting the world to change, but not necessarily having to do it yourself. As far as social commentaries go about the times and places we live, Restless is Common's song writing masterpiece to date. Music in its most current form. Make sure you see his upcoming Autumn tour, and the interview below...
Straight to the new track Restless. What's the story behind it, have you had a restless year?
Hasn't everybody? I feel as time poor and anxiety rich as ever. Hyperbole in my marrow from too much social medi-urgh. It's been a very busy year and, because I am some kind of idiotic yo yo, I always want to be working on the project that doesn't happen to be requiring my attention at that moment. Champagne problems.
We think your style has changed a little since we last conversed, the spoken word/rap element really stands out on the new track, right? // Well, I reckon what's happened there is that my last couple of releases have been a tiny bit atypical and my half-rapped / half-spoken / half-sung (wait, how many halves is that?) might predate your introduction to me. I've been trimming that hedge for a while now but, yes, thank you kindly, it does rather pop against the minimal instrumentation of the single doesn't it?
"I like the "shout out to the self-employed" line 'cos I feel like it's an extra little connection to the crowd"
How did you and Mario Cruzado come up with the video? The outfits you are wearing make me feel restless! // Mario had some ideas involving multiple "Me's" and we decided it'd be much better to use real life people instead of copying and pasting me a few times. Which worked out great as everyone was amazing and full of inspired contributions. Props to Jo who featured in the vid and her refined theatre-producing chops for help with the outfits! I may or may not pop mine back on for the tour...
What's the line you most look forward to delivering when you play Restless live? Mine would be "if it would clear my name I'd take a bullet for the last known Rhino, just to be a hero".
I like the "shout out to the self-employed" line 'cos I feel like it's an extra little connection to the crowd. And to think I almost didn't put it on the record. I fancied it as something I would just keep for live shows but the night before going into the studio I came to my senses.
Finally, you're a Third Outing favourite from last Christmas' Yippee-Ki-Yay release alone, have you got another festive treat in store for us this year? // I'm afraid not, no. But I do hope to complete my Planet Hollywood trilogy at some point. And I look forward to 'Yippee...' getting another chance to do the rounds in a couple months.
Like many artists today, with Gorgeous Bully it's the conversation that you focus on. Not the technical quality. There is, however, one question we will try to answer: is Lo-Fi an aesthetic choice or the only way he knows how?
Thomas Crang AKA Gorgeous Bully has the kind of story many musicians today could easily relate to. He started the project in 2010 with his girlfriend but it never got anywhere (with her). She left the band but he kept the name and continued to write and record. The early material was very simple, if not to say common, mostly cool vocal melodies and guitar strums (here's a best of from 2010 to 2016).
Lo-Fi often means a rawer form of a musical idea. It has more to do with channeling emotions and feelings than precise technical feats. It's also a mirror our generation's Indie style. We're the generation of bedroom artists, home studios and music straight from the heart. The lucky ones like Alex G, Pinegrove, Frankie Cosmos to name but three managed to find relative success and give hope to an entire generation of young musicians not afraid to "show" themselves the way they are, like Thomas.
"Lo-Fi for that convenience and that warm feel"
Gorgeous Bully carried on with 4-track bedroom recordings and half-baked songs, and as he told us, will probably be "flogging this dead horse for years to come" too. But the next thing he confesses all but confirms what we already had in mind. Yes, Gorgeous Bully use Lo-Fi because that's what he does best, and truth is, he also doesn't know any better."Before I started recording and writing 'Great Blue' I hadn't written or really done anything for the previous year for multiple reasons (being homeless, a bit jaded and generally an idiot) so honestly, I just felt glad to be settled and writing, recording and releasing music again".
The Gallagher brothers still give each other shit, Radiohead headline festivals and Damon Albarn, well he has his own festival. Even in 2017 the pioneers of Britpop are very much out there and still somewhat relevant. To celebrate, here's 10 Britpop songs which make you extremely thankful for a new era of music.
The Day We Caught The Train - Ocean Colour Scene
Now, by no means are we saying any of these songs are bad, well, apart from the final one (you'll see). The point is that they sounds like a product of their time. The Day We Caught The Train, sadly, has aged about as well as an avocado bathroom suite. The pre-chorus sounds whingey, and the "Oh La La's" inspire as much sing-along as John Cage's 4'33 AKA silence.
Paranoid Android - Radiohead
The ultimate Marmite "Britpop" band. You either love Thom Yorke's freakish delivery or you think he and they are the most-overrated proposition of the era. Unlike some of their more famous single releases, Paranoid Android is one for the hard-core fans only. Continuous ostinatos and pained cries. We, admittedly and obviosuly, side more on the negative side of the Marmite.
Dolphin - Shed Seven
We love Shed Seven. I know, it's against the trend to say this, but they knew how to write a catchy tune. That and throw in some northern grit and Rick Witter swag, and you've got a decent band for the time and place. So in this case, it's more of a "worst of a decent bunch". But what really gets this track on the list is the swimming pool music video. A true shocker.
Walkaway - Cast
Somethings are just depressing. This song probably tops the list. What's more annoying is Cast did so many better songs, like Sandstorm - that was a beauty - it's just that this one remains the most famous. The sentiment might have been there, but thankfully the longevity wasn't. Maybe we're being too harsh, even Noel Gallagher found praise calling it a "religious experience" to watch Cast live. So, how many people went to the reunions? Thought so.
Wake Up Boo - The Boo Radleys
Simply. Just no. Thankfully it's no longer heard except on the odd breakfast bar TV commercial.
Chemical World - Blur
This is just like watching a young footballer before his prime. Like Ronaldo at Sporting, you can see where the later Blur's magic stemmed from, but for a single release this is more reserve team than world cup final. But having said that, it is still one of the songs on the list I do occasionally still listen to, albeit very very very rarely. Still, it makes the list.
Monday Morning - Pulp
Different Class really was a different class. But this song just reminds me of everything that is wrong with a Monday morning but without the sadistic enjoyment of dreariness. Frankly, that's the definition of grim. Could this be the only Pulp song that stagnates? Quite possibly, as even old Jarv's vocal realisations don't save it. Definitely a skipper, and you know it.
Come Back To What You Know - Embrace
Another mid-90's swimming pool music video. In fairness, this tune isn't so bad. It's more to do with the Indie power ballad than anything else, they were all at it! Don't you find they just seem to drag in the fast pace of the modern world? Credit where credit is due though, these guys knew when to call it quits with an absolute mega gig at Millennium Square back in 2005, and now drummer Mike Heaton owns a cracking chain pizza pubs. Result!
Animal Nitrate - Suede
The penultimate song and a somewhat of a dilemma. The way Brett Anderson's voice combines with the unique sound of the Suede signature guitar riff usually thrills me, but for some reason I can't help but think there really isn't much to this song at all. For the catchy guitar hook and the extremely repetitive lyricism kind of cancel each other out. In other words, this could have been a great song. But isn't.
The romanticism of the North. Grit and toughness. Hardened faces, softened souls. It's about personality, mentality and wits. Graham Fellows AKA John Shuttleworth suggested it's nice up North, Jack Cooper is the most recent artist to all but confirm it.
The Ultimate Painting co-founder hits the most northerly tones possible with this contemporary take on the blues. Sandgrown is a record of the North. A picture of mundane, repetitive, life. Forget George Formby and his stick of Blackpool rock, this is a real, current voice of the North. And it's execution appeals to the romanticism of it all, too. Cooper grasps sentiment perfectly. Yeah, it might be shit living in constant grey and rain, but it'll be rite, you know?
"I can't think of a more northern record really. It's about a town in the north of England and I think the subject matter is pretty specific to growing up in a Northern town. That's not to say the themes aren't universal, but I wouldn't really know. The older I get and the further I travel, the more English and the more Northern I feel"
The North comes across in Sandgrown both in instrumental delivery and lyricism. Titles such as North Of Anywhere and Stranded Fleetwood Blues speak for themselves. The lyrics portray the perfect picture of repetitive living, 9-5 mentalities, lounging about not really up to much and a constant battering of the seafront. Nothing portrays this more so than Gynn Square: //I stood there waiting on the pavement, Monday morning, it was early, I was yawning, it was boring, as the sea spray, washed the weekend from the concrete// a more perfect description of the North there is not.
But the delivery is also key. We're drenched in a dreamy reverb which makes the whole experience seem to last so much longer than it really does. The constant pedal of the organ adds a "Super Hans sense of dread", and for the first time I can really relate in my musical life; in Sandgrown the North of England seems to have found its own spin-off Blues music...that works!!
"I don't really think of genres as belonging anywhere in particular and if you go back far enough, it all essentially comes from the same place. Country music can be traced back to Irish and Scottish folk music"
For the time being it seems that Cooper has found his niche with this North England portrayal. Unlike other Indie groups from the region, and indeed his own successful partnership with Ultimate Painting band mate James Hoare, Sandgrown just seems to be so much more honest and unique proposition, delivered with a "Steppenwolf" angst and consciousness.
Look, don't listen to this album at a party for heaven's sake, leave it for the rainy Monday morning car journey or the longing stare out of the window at work. That's where it makes most sense. And if not, then don't worry, Ultimate Painting will be back soon with a 4th record anyway. But this, well this is something special, trust me.
Finally, Catholic Action's début record In Memory Of is due on October 20 on Modern Sky UK. So here's why you should be be thrilled about it.
Number 1: They make good covers. The band covered for instance the great Silver Jew's tune Honk If You're Lonely Tonight, which shows they have great music tastes and can nail a good cover. HONK!
Number 2: They have promising songs. The latest songs from the Glasgow boys inc. Propaganda, Sunday Driver, Doing Well are very encouraging. The band manage to churn very poppy melodies without being too predictable, definitely trying to shape their own sounds.
Number 3: They are Cribs fans. Because in an interview with Third Outing, lead singer Chris McCrory told us this: "We all think the first three albums by The Cribs are completely underrated masterpieces...Ryan Jarman is the ultimate anti-hero guitar player." We couldn't agree more, right!
Number 4: They are Scotland's greatest hope. Catholic Action have been around for some time now, and have already released good tunes. We loved the bass driven L.U.V, the chilled out The Shallows, New Year, and Catching Up. And as for one of the brightest tracks of year, Breakfast, which you need to wrap your lugs around below...
Number 5: They are extremely good live. That's right, Catholic Action know how to entertain a crowd and to take their songs to another level live. They made waves at SXSW in Austin, TX, and are about to get on the road in the UK and Europe. Catch them live before they get big!
Bobby Aherne and the rest of the No Monster Club crew are on a mission. Their resolution for the year seems to have been a thoughtful, gifting one. For on the first day of every month No Monster Club release a brand new single! Is it a big ask to keep that going and good? Not for No Monster Club; the only band I wanna be in. Here's why...
"No Monster Club is a slideshow of the grotesque and a gramophone of the absurd. Imagine Daniel Johnston representing Bora Bora at the Eurovision and finishing last"
- Bobby Aherne
Bobby Aherne, quite literally one of Ireland's most prolific song writers, never misses the mark when it comes to hyperbole. There's a metaphor for everything. So despite the flamboyancy and fairy tale like descriptions (seriously, who wouldn't want to see Daniel Johnston represent Bora Bora at Eurovision?), he and his group No Monster Club are preaching the extraordinary with their latest batch of tunes. One listen through this year's No Monster Club encyclopedia, and you'll blurt out my favourite, over-used descriptor. GENIUS. The whole thing sounds and seems like a whale of a time. Creating such a euphoric mood, isn't that just the best kind of band to be a part? Aherne thinks so...
"I have so much fun recording every song I make, and I never know which one is going to appeal to other people. It's always a nice surprise when one of them gets special attention, though. I'd love to know what the occasionally present magical ingredient was, so I could sprinkle it all over everything"
I've listened to the whole string of releases No Monster Club gift us on the first of every month, and so I'm gonna take a stab in the dark at finding that "magical ingredient". And that ingredient is...fun. The whole Monster catalogue is drenched in it. But it's fun without ever being novelty. Every song sounds as cool as the last, experimenting, but also utilising their unique band chemistry to create the ultimate bounce affect. It's impossible choosing where to start with No Monster Club, so lets concentrate on just two. Last month's single Faqir/Hex, and this month's Hiccup/Kalimanko.
You Are Here. This is a song that needs to be experienced. So put your coat on, head into the back garden when it's stormy out, stick this tune on, and enjoy. The ultimate 90's dance pop beat will greet you, with the perfect guitar accompaniment, and a chorus to singalong to n'all. It's a brilliant song. Then Kung Fu Buffet hits you. You'll think you're listen to Dr. Dog, but then you'll realise they haven't done anything this good for years. It's got to be No Monster Club. The lyrics grip, and again the chorus is just so cool. Epitomises the fun without novelty and another brilliant track.
"If you've never listened to music on a swing, you should give it a shot. There's no better feeling than when your swings are perfectly in sync with the rhythm. Try it with 'Hiccup' by They Shoot Horses Don't They. You'll get a thousand butterflies at the chorus. But yes, it'd be cool to play a gig at a funfair while everybody is on waltzers and stuff"
That was last month's gem. And this month's is just as good. Aherne's ideas continue to shine with Birthday Cake, proving that No Monster Club are comfortable with whatever they are playing. There's no real formula or style. Just look at the band's beach picture; organised chaos. There's no set plan for the music. Just fun, and what sounds right. Coincidental, then, that the real beauty on the release is called A Long Day At The Seaside.
Welcome to the sound of jungle beats, old cinematic strings and the cheekiest keyboard ostinatos in town. It's a marvelous theme that bounces along, and builds in rhythm and layers. Then, we find that magical ingredient Aherne is so determined to bottle. The perfect transition into beat, accompanied by the sound of ocean. We've arrived somewhere new. It's the same beat, but isolated and magnified, it takes on a whole new life. It's so brilliantly simple. And simply brilliant.
"We'll get around to doing more recordings together. It's been a few years since we did a band record, and the group has changed a lot since then. We did a charity cover of 'Remember You're A Womble', and I think that's pretty much it"
There are plenty of bands from the South-Coast of England who play it big locally, but struggle to thrive elsewhere. It's a tough corner to break-free from, for sure. But Gender Roles are managing to do just that with the release of their latest five track EP Planet X-Ray. Here's what we think, with a little insight from GR bass player Jared Tomkins...
Planet X-Ray is a major release for the Brighton Based Indie group Gender Roles. Released on Hanger Records earlier this year, it's the first sound-bite of a band who could and should break-free from the local Indie hotbed of Brighton and the rest of the south coast. Planet X-Ray offers the kind of powerful Indie Rock 'n' Roll which has seen the likes of British Sea Power and Royal Blood make it to the next level. Quite simply, it grabs you. It shakes your speakers. YES!!!
"We weren't sure how we wanted it to sound, or even how it was going to sound, but it turned out to be pretty much exactly what we were looking for. We've had some really positive feedback since it came out and we're really grateful for that"
Where many bands like Gender Roles go wrong is their lack of diversity in sound. By that, I mean the important art of contrast. On Planet X-Ray, Gender Roles get the balance between heavy thrash and sparse, punctuated, rhythm spot on. It allows for a narrative to come across in their songs. Yeah, we all like head banging, but we like hearing too. Much like the very first Paws record Cokefloat!, Gender Roles have produced a soundtrack which works across the entire spectrum of Indie music.
"Paws are great. I think if you get annoyed by being grouped with certain bands, you should probably change the genre or style of music that you play"
The latest release Chemicals is a perfect example of this. Drifting between a gripping verse and a rocking chorus, it's a very tight example of what's to come from Gender Roles. But, it's not the band's best. That accolade falls to their very first release Skin. The vocals on this track really are stand-out, in fact, it's the best example of how voice and instrumentation work together on the Planet X-Ray record. "You really got in underneath my skin...". 'Nuff said.
"Skin. First song we wrote, first song out and first video as well. The song is basically about the 'scars' that past relationships leave. When I wrote Skin I pictured it as a couple getting tattoos of each others names and breaking up.
The 'kiss of death' as they call it".
So, it does beg the question, what will happen to Gender Roles in the world of Indie music? Do they remain in Brighton and the south coast, or will the potential their debut Planet X-Ray shows propel them onto a greater stage? For a debut EP release, this record really is out of this world. A phenomenal introduction. But in reality, as bassist Jared Tomkins reminds us, there is a lot more to it than just releasing the best music.
"When you're a new band, you just want to play shows. You're going to be on first, so it's got to be somewhere you can get to by running for the train straight after work because you're not famous and still work for the man, and get back from easily because you're not famous and still work for the man".
© Photo: Piotr Filipek
Jon McKiel is the epitome of cool. No try-hard, no nuffin'. Just his own style and his own brand of music. No small talk necessary. The Canadian songwriter has recently returned with the release of his new record Memorial Ten Count on You've Changed Records.
You get very little out of McKiel in interview. His answers are short and precise. Flamboyancy isn't part of the McKiel deal. He leaves most of the talking to his music. So, if pictures can speak a thousand words, Memorial Ten Count can speak a zillion. With this latest release McKiel and co have stretched the boundaries of what an ordinary alternative-genre release might sound like. McKiel dabs in and out of his favourite genres from the blues melancholy to the thrash. But one underlying factor throughout is the unrivaled use of the guitar. One moment it jags the perfect rhythm, the next it sings the sweetest melody. This is McKiel's forte.
"Past records felt more like a collage with me playing most instruments and overdubbing, whereas this one was live off the floor with a band I've been playing with for a few years"
"Brothers came about from us just playing around during the recording session. I had that scale written as it sounds now and the rest of the arrangement was written on a break then re-arranged by Crocker"
And so, to the important introduction of McKiel's band. Steadily involved for a few years, this release is definitely that of a group, not a solo artist. It would be fair to say that the introduction of Jay Crocker on guitar, Shawn Dicey on bass and Aaron Mangle on drums has given McKiel the edge he was perhaps missing. It's definitely our favourite effort since the solemn tones heard on The Nature Of Things a few years back, and with the strong backing of the aforementioned members, it has allowed McKiel to stick to his strengths, get the guitar spot-on, and belt that incredible voice out. For that reason, then, Memory Cook has to be the best track on the record. Hands down.
Minnesota noughties throw-back rockers Remo Drive have just released their first record audaciously named Greatest Hits. May as well start at the top, eh? Here's what Third Outing thought of Remo Drive's effort after a conversation with front man Erik Paulson.
With the release of Greatest Hits, Remo Drive have proved that our starry eyed memories of yesteryear's Indie Rock 'n' Roll dream days are alive and kicking. Listening to Remo Drive I can't help but feel like I'm back in the summer of 2008; straight out of school, about to embark on years of mop head and questionable fashion decisions. But it was the best time of my life, and with this "greatest hits" release, Remo Drive prove to be my time machine to a better place. And so let's start then with the first single on the new Remo Drive record curiously entitled Art School.
"We love a lot of music from that era.
That riff in particular was originally much slower but
I decided to speed it up after listening to some older punk stuff"
The problem is, it's no longer 2009, and this era of Indie Rock 'n' Roll has all but disappeared. At least, when you hear it now, it feels somewhat dated, a bit like watching episodes of The Inbetweeners on E4. To judge this record on these terms seems somewhat unfair. But still, we kind of can't help it. Yes, the first single Art School is an excellent record when isolated from space and time. Though we don't quite concur with the older punk influence, it is one of the catchiest, upbeat, and sound-trackable records we've had on Third Outing this year. Still, something we can't escape...
...yep, we hate to judge a great record based on something as trivial as decade, but it just doesn't sit right for us as a contemporary piece of music. I'm listening to this and I'm thinking about bands such as Operahouse, Pigeon Detectives, Pete and the Pirates. Again, the sound track of my youth and the greatest of memories, but still memories non the less. I can't help but ask, where have Remo Drive been for the last 10 years to still create this kind of jaunting Indie record? Or am I just looking at this in the wrong way? Are Remo Drive actually genius? Are they the first noughties revivalists to get it absolutely spot on?
"Outside of our DIY community the our reception has always been lukewarm at best. There's a lot of opportunities
here though if you persist"
Alas, maybe I've got what's going on here. You need to delve further into the record to discover it, but this revivalist notion grabs hold when you uncover tracks further down the listing like Summertime, Name Brand, and particularly Yer Killin' Me. There's a punk spirit hidden behind an Indie guise. It's like a combination of thrash and melody, a little bit like what Paws are doing right now in Scotland, giving it some beans but keeping it accessible with melody. In short, a tanked up Indie song from the noughties with an originality from the now. That counts for Yer Killin' Me particularly.
"The end of Yer Killin Me was a very happy accident.I had the
bulk of the song written and that jam section came from
jamming one day.The acoustic ending came
about during the recording process"
This is the most beautiful song on the record, constructed in a way which keeps you on your toes throughout. Is it loud and in your face verses? Reflective Muse-esque choruses? Indie-jangle middle 8 sections? Or best of all, an unbelievably enticing stripped-back, acoustic outro that somehow encapsulates the energy of the entire record in one sweet and solemn cheerio farewell? It's all of these things, of course. But seriously, what an ending, and one which leads to a final verdict on Remo Drive. Yes, despite their initial out-dated execution of Indie Rock 'n' Roll, these guys are in fact the first serious revivalists of a time and space which needs to be celebrated a little more often in life.
The former college buds LVL UP, now signed to Sub Pop Records, have released their third outing Return To Love and are about to kick things off here in the UK. Here's a few words...
When we ask LVL UP about their second effort Hoodwink'd, they told us things straight: "we look back on it fondly but we are more interested in moving forward and working on new things". The "moving forward" comes with the release of Return To Love on the legendary American Indie label Sub Pop. This was last year. From Pitchfork to Rolling Stone the reviews are strong. But now the band is coming to the UK and they're ready...
LVL UP embody the career progression many bands would like to have. A very decent first record followed by a better second one. Influenced by Silver Jews and 90's Indie Rock, naturally it caught the attention of the media and a buzz formed. But they have also gone one step further than most other bands behind the scenes...
LVL UP founded a record label Double Double Whammy which is set to re-release on vinyl one of the best Indie records of last year, Hovvdy's Taster. That's a side project, for now their own release on Sub Pop takes priority. They've struck up an accord with the label and have worked together shaping the whole package; "Nick did most of the drawings and then he and Dave collaborated on the layout and design with some help from the Sub Pop design team. It was hard for us to agree on the final layout, but it happened". That's the best way to learn how to run a label, right? This has resulted in Return To Love maybe being their best effort yet.
"Having three different songwriters can make it feel more experimental
when we are all pulling in different directions"
We asked the question, is Return To Love the most experimental record so far? "Yes we definitely feel that way! Not sure why it turned out that way because we didn't necessarily intend to make a record like that, but I guess having three different songwriters can make it feel more experimental when we are all pulling in different directions". The band's philosophical lyrics have great impact on the way listeners approach the record, but the true consistency of the record is the genuine high-level quality of each track, not just the philosophy behind them.
Take a track such as Hidden Driver as an example. A combination of musical talent and vision creates the most important consistency of all: a record which makes you think from beginning to end. Between the mystic, wisdom and the theories, this is the band's sound developing towards their happy end point. "In the beginning it was an aesthetic decision born out of necessity, but lately our sound has been shaped by a desire to find unique sounds in the studio".